Construction Inspector of the Year
Ken Spies – AG Architecture
Ken Spies credits his decades in the construction industry to his ability to learn, solve problems and do things the right way.
At nearly 75 years old, Spies has amassed a broad range of experience in construction and architecture – from running his own design-build firm to selling scale models of architectural renderings. He’s now a construction inspector at AG Architecture, a firm he’s worked at since its founding.
“I like to educate myself and work with teams to make sure projects are properly constructed,” Spies said.
Spies’ mother had always dreamed he’d become an architect one day. But when he graduated from high school in 1965, there weren’t any local architecture programs around.
After taking classes at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, Spies worked various jobs, including caddying at the Milwaukee Country Club and conducting credit-bureau investigations. Spies ultimately found himself at the former Grellinger-Rose Architects after his mother introduced him to a neighbor who had worked at the firm.
Spies began working at Grellinger-Rose as a hand-drafter, or gopher, and came to excel at building scale models. He would go on to build them as a side gig, making models of various Milwaukee landmarks.
Spies later came to work in the drafting pool at SLA Architecture, an early version of AG Architecture, with Gene Guszkowski and Steve Alexander, who would eventually lead the firm.
In the ‘80s, Spies left to run his own design-build contractor amid a turbulent economy. His return to AG Architecture, as a traveling construction inspector, came when the firm began building senior-living projects nationally. He would log more than 200 flights every year from 2000 until the start of the pandemic in 2020.
“It’s been my love for architecture,” Spies said. “I have done every facet, from design to working drawings to spec writing. In my construction inspector role, I get to be hands on problem solving in the field and part of the architecture world every day.